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Braun in Lineup vs. Reds
Tuesday, March 29
The Brewers confirmed Braun's return, noting he would bat third and play left field against Cincinnati.
Counsell Comments on Braun's Playing Status
Saturday, March 26
"I’m confident he’ll be in the lineup on Opening Day," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I really am."
Injury-Plagued Braun Still a Star Slugger
The 2011 National League MVP battled back problems last season, eventually undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disc in October.
In November, Braun told Haudricourt his rehab was progressing well:
I feel pretty good, knock on wood. The only surprise is the rehab is a little longer than I was anticipating, just a couple months of rehab. Other than that, everything was as expected.
The first couple of days post-procedure were not fun; it was painful. But other than that, I feel good. I'm doing my physical therapy stuff four days a week. I definitely feel pretty good right now.
Braun, who is 32 years old, had a strong rebound season in 2015 after a poor 2014 in which he posted a career-low .777 OPS. He's not the MVP-caliber player from early in his career, but he still hit 25 home runs with an .854 OPS in 140 games last season.
The Brewers are fully immersed in rebuilding their roster and acquiring assets for the future, so contending in 2016 is a long shot.
Braun is the last vestige of Milwaukee's 2008 and 2011 playoff teams and signed through 2020 with a mutual option for 2021. His health will be a huge focal point for the Brewers, who are paying him a lot of money as they endure a lot of struggles on the field.